The Gift of Pain

23 Jun

A guest post by my beautiful wife, Tahnya Porter


The Gift of Pain

Today as I took my walk, the Lord begin to speak to me about suffering, again.  You see yesterday, we were with a gathering of missionaries who all know about our son Joshua, and asked about him.  Sharing how he is doing (which is declining), is not easy, and makes it almost a fresh wound each time.  I did have the God-given opportunity to talk with a long time friend, and a fellow traveler who has a son with a life threatening disease.  She and her husband have been an incredible source of help, and sounding boards for how to walk this road of suffering.  Which brings me to the specific word God laid on my heart this morning:  long-suffering.  Doesn't he talk about this clearly in his Word?  Galations 5:22 is the verse about the fruit of the spirit,and included in that is long-suffering.  Oh my, what do we do with that when we are in the midst of extreme suffering and pain? 


Years ago I read a book titled 'The gift of Pain' by Dr. Paul Brand.  It details his experience in a leper community and what he begin to see as God's gift to us in the form of pain.  It is an amazing book, one I highly recommend.  After reading the book, I begin to see how blessed I was to feel sensations and experience situations that others who have a disease like leprosy cannot.  


My mind begin to question the Lord about this,and he took me again to Dr. Paul Brand's book.  If I didn't experience pain, I wouldn't know not to touch a hot stove, or to not walk on nails, or when I fall I wouldn't know I was hurt.  Having pain allows me to sense life on a whole new level.  It helps me have boundaries, and discipline, and take care of myself and others.  Suffering has many levels.  Watching a loved one die, however long that takes, is to me a practice of learning long suffering.  I know I have to take care of myself, my kids, my husband, and live life to the best of my ability.  I definitely want to know there is an end to this suffering.  But, God does say, His grace is sufficient.  


Suffering pushes me to Jesus.  It pushes me to dig deep to find those places I can dig my feet into and grip with my hands.  You know, the stuff that brings some sense of 'normal' to our lives.  For me, that has been fighting for my time with Jesus; exercising; doing laundry, cooking,etc.. the mundane becomes sacred when life is upside-down.  The handles of our lives become the doorknobs to rooms of peace and order.  


Interestingly enough, I have been having physical therapy for an issue with my arm the past several weeks.  I have been in a lot of pain. As I talked with the PT about pain, he mentioned how our culture has really begin to push the use of meds more on tv and otherwise to dull the pain, and eliminate any source of discomfort.  Basically, so you can live pain-free.  It is not reality.  Reality is, if you are human, you will suffer some form of pain, whether physically or in your spirit and soul.  Innoculating oneself to pain might help temporarily, but if the pain is not dealt with at the source, fixed or healed, it keeps coming back.  


1 Peter 4:19 says this " So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you."    I am blessed to know a Savior who does allow suffering.  He blessed me with Joshua, who does have DMD, but is such a source of joy and peace to me and many others.  Joshua has taught me how suffering and love often go hand and hand.  I know what may come for Joshua.  I choose to love and serve him and be his mom despite the heartache involved.  God gave Joshua to me as a gift, and how I cherish that gift is important.  


God loves me enough to allow pain into my life to bring me close to him.  He is ever reaching, finding ways to show Himself to me and you.  So my heartfelt expression today is this:  Thank you Father for your gift of pain.  Help me to fix my eyes on you, and see you in the moment, season, or long period of suffering.  Draw me close to you, and fill me with your strength and joy.  Help me to see beyond the pain to the beauty you are creating in me and others.  You are more than enough.

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